NOKOMIS — When Pierre “Nic” Antoine arrived as the new principal of St. Louis School in Nokomis on Aug. 1, he knew challenges were ahead because of the coronavirus pandemic, one of them being financial. With large groups being unable to gather, most fundraising events are not possible. But Antoine says that he an optimist, relying on his faith and his fellow Catholics who are committed to Catholic education.
Enter Bernard “Bert” Clark, a parishioner from St. Maurice in Morrisonville. Clark has no formal affiliation with St. Louis School or the parish for that matter. But he did send his four children through St. Maurice Catholic school which has long since closed and his youngest two grandchildren recently graduated from St. Mary School in Taylorville. Clark decided to donate a 2006 Ford Mustang GT with 24,000 miles to the school to be raffled off.
“I have always been supportive of Catholic education as it’s very important to me,” Clark said. “My ancestors came to America in the early 1600s, and it was Catholicism that led them away from the Church of England to come here. Catholicism has remained in my family. It has been influential to me and my children.”
Antoine, who is a Mustang enthusiast, and owns his own 2019 Bullitt Mustang was amazed at the generosity and the vehicle itself.
“This car is immaculate and has been taken care of like a newborn,” Antoine said. “You talk about a way to open a school year with this kind of gift to market our school. It’s incredible!”
The burgundy red GT is a V-8 with automatic, A/C and upgraded wheels and tires. It has aftermarket stripes and exhaust and purrs like a lion.
Initially, the school thought of only selling 500 tickets, but before tickets were even printed, people from off the street in Nokomis were drop-ping off $100 bills for chances to win the vehicle. After seeing the interest, the school has decided to sell up to 1,000 tickets at $25 each or five for $100 with the drawing to be held on Tuesday, Nov. 24 just before Thanksgiving. Clark said the car is estimated to be worth between $10,000 and $13,000. “This way, if someone wins it and want to give it as a Christmas gift, they will have that opportunity,” said Antoine.
Tickets are available through the school office by calling (217) 563-7445. The car is being parked right outside the school on E. Union St. in Nokomis for all to see during school hours and as the marquee on the Parish Center says so eloquently, “Jesus says take the wheel.”